After a business plan, what follows is a business continuity plan. Unlike a business plan, a business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that outlines how the business intends to continue with its operations in case of a disruption. More often than not, a business continuity plan is confused with a disaster recovery plan. BCP is much more comprehensive than the recovery plan and usually contains specific contingencies for the business processes, assets, human resources, and business partners. In short, everything that might be disrupted and affected has to be included in the BCP.
In creating a business continuity plan, you have to define the risks that will affect the operations of the company. This means doing a vigorous assessment of all the risks as well as coming up with a management strategy to deal with these various risks. Remember, risks rarely give us advance notice of when they are to strike and therefore, a BCP acts as a cushion measure against these disasters.
A business continuity plan is a crucial part of the success of the business. The threats and disruptions that occur sometimes mean the loss of valuable resources and revenues for the company. A business cannot rely on insurance alone to cover all the costs and/or the consumers who will move to the competition which makes a business continuity plan very vital.
Why Do Business Continuity Plans Matter
All businesses, whether large or small strive, for one thing, to remain competitive in the marketplace. This means they will do everything in their power to retain current customers while also striving to increase their reach. There can never be a better way to test the ability of a business to rise up and regain control than right after a chaotic experience or event.
Technology has become central to the operations of most businesses. Restoring information and information technology for most businesses has never been a problem as there are supporting infrastructures to help with this. The question that remains is what will happen to all those other departments that cannot be restored by IT? Remember, the success of any company is directly connected to people and processes. Thus, there is a positive correlation between the ability of a company to handle chaotic incidents effectively and the company’s reputation and market value. This overall increases the customer’s confidence and brand loyalty.
Companies ready to get on with a business continuity plan must understand all the processes within the business and the real impact these processes have over time. Loss to a business can occur at any time and in any form, it could be a financial loss, a legal loss, a reputation loss, or even a regulatory loss. How a business handles these losses can affect its market value as well as consumer confidence.
Developing a Business Continuity Plan
Each company has its own defined way of creating a business continuity plan but there are several steps that all lean on for a comprehensive plan. The anatomy of a solid business continuity plan include;
- The impact analysis.
- The recovery roadmap.
- The organization structure.
The Impact Analysis
This is one of the critical elements to consider when creating a business continuity plan. Impact analysis mainly identifies the effects that will ensue following the disruption of the business functions and processes. FEMA has an operational and financial worksheet that you can use to help run a business continuity analysis. It is important that this worksheet be completed by the functional managers who understand the business well.
The key thing is to understand the impacts and also identifying when the loss of a key business function would compromise the business resulting in the identified impact. The impact can be anything from financial to operational. Once this impact analysis has been successfully completed, companies can now identify and also prioritize the processes that will have a significant impact on the business’s performance. It can also be used to develop the point at which these impacts will be mitigated and recovered, also known as ‘recovery time objective.
The Recovery Roadmap
The recovery roadmap simply means that the business must identify all the necessary steps that it has to take to implement the steps toward the full recovery of the core business functions. One thing you have to keep in mind during this whole process is that a disaster recovery plan is also a critical part of a business continuity plan. Therefore, if you don’t already have, create a disaster recovery plan which will be integrated into your BCP.
A common mistake with so many businesses is that they tend to assume that all the requirements of the recovery plan have been factored in. As previously stated, you need to ensure that there is a definite recovery time and make sure that it aligns with your business expectations.
In addition, when designing your recovery roadmap in the business continuity plan, make sure to get all parties involved. Interview the key personnel in the organization who have successfully gone through a disaster. Everybody’s input and insight could be very useful in helping to craft a solid plan.
The Organization Structure and Training
As you are planning for the recovery of various business processes, it is also important that you establish a team that might possibly take over after the disaster. This is the continuity team. This team consists of a few cross-functional managers and team leaders and any other team members who might be valuable to the team. This is the team that will keep things moving forward post-disaster. It doesn’t stop at that, the team has to be trained and tested vigorously. The plan must be presented to the stakeholders and the team members should understand it comprehensively. This will help you identify the weak links in the team as well as the missing aspects in your plan.
In the business world, nothing is ever certain. There will be disruptions all over, some major and some minor. With a good business continuity plan, there should be so little to worry about. It is important that as a business manager you not only have a solid business plan but also you be fully aware of the risks your business might face and their different levels. This alone will give you a good edge and also give you a good head start to mitigate the risks involved.